Netflix has bet heavily this year on high-profile feature films starring A-list talent: first with Chris Hemsworth in Extraction, and then with Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron in The Old Guard. That bet has largely paid off. Now the streaming platform has tapped another Oscar winner, George Clooney, to direct and star in the post-apocalyptic science fiction film The Midnight Sky. It’s adapted from the critically acclaimed 2016 debut novel, Good Morning, Midnight, by Lily Brooks-Dalton, which has been compared to Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. The official trailer just dropped, and it’s giving us some strong Away vibes (which, alas, has been canceled by Netflix after just one season).
In the novel, a brilliant astronomer named Augustine is posted to the Arctic, scanning the night sky for clues about the birth of the universe. Then a mysterious global apocalypse occurs, prompting all his fellow scientists to evacuate. But Augustine remains behind, dedicated to continuing his research, even as the airwaves go silent. Meanwhile, a team of astronauts aboard the spaceship Aether is set to return to Earth after a mission to Jupiter. On board is Sully, who sacrificed her marriage and left her daughter behind in order to become one of the first humans to travel so far in our Solar System. The astronauts are unaware of the catastrophe that has befallen Earth, and it falls to Augustine to warn them not to return.
Snow is white, space is black
Clooney’s film adaptation looks like it will hew closely to the novel. Per the official premise: “This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine (Clooney, Syriana, Argo), a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully (Felicity Jones, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.” The cast also includes David Oyelowo (Selma, Don’t Let Go) as Commander Tom Adewole, Ethan Peck (Star Trek: Discovery), Sophie Rundle (Peaky Blinders), Kyle Chandler (Bloodline, First Man) as Matthew, Tiffany Boone (The Following) as Maya, Demián Bichir (A Better Life) as Sanchez, and Caoilinn Springall as Iris, a mysterious child that Augustine befriends in the Arctic.
The trailer opens on a vast snowy expanse before cutting to Clooney’s Augustine attempting to contact the astronauts aboard the Aether—and exchanging a defeated look with young Iris before adding, “Is anyone out there?” Meanwhile, in deep space, Sully is attempting to make contact with Earth; three weeks have passed since the Aether‘s last communication with Mission Control. Augustine tells Isis that the Aether was supposed to be the hope for mankind’s future: “In our galaxy alone, there are billions of stars. At least one of them has the potential to support life.”
That mission is now more critical than ever, which is why he has to find a way to warn the crew about the catastrophic conditions on Earth. (We are not told what, exactly, happened, except that “it started with a mistake.”) To do so, Augustine needs to get to a facility with a stronger antenna. Since he can’t leave Iris, she comes along. As for the astronauts, they find themselves pondering the big questions of life and death, as one does on a potential one-way mission to Jupiter, and wondering if all the sacrifice will be worth it in the end.
The Midnight Sky will play in select theaters in December before coming to Netflix on December 23, 2020.
Listing image by YouTube/Netflix